The Indore district administration has set up a five-member committee to inquire into the 6.86 hectare of land allotted on lease to controversial godman Asaram for setting up an ashram on Khandwa Road.
The administration wants to measure the land to see whether there has been any encroachment by the ashram authorities. The ashram had been given the land at zero lease premium and a token lease rent of Rs 1 per year in 1997 for the next 30 years for setting up a yoga sadhana centre and garden.
The five members of the committee are joint collector and SDO Rau Vijay Agrawal, additional tehsildar Poornima Singhi, land records superintendent Rakesh Sharma, area patwari and tehsildar. Agrawal will head the committee. The committee will look into all aspects including land given under lease and the actual land on which ashram is built, whether the construction was done under the specified limits, the terms and conditions of lease, whether the land was being used for any other purpose other than the which it was allotted, etc.
Indore collector Akash Tripathi said that they have received complaints from people about alleged encroachments against the ashram authorities. “More than anything else we clearly want to demarcate the land given to the ashram and also to see whether they have violated any lease conditions,” the collector said.
Situated on the outskirts of the city, 75 staff members manage the entire campus and various activities of the ashram. It boasts of a meditation and yoga centre where disciples come and meditate. It also has a gurukul (school) where students, mostly children of devotees and employees come and study. There is also a small gau shala. There is a small vegetable garden, and large number of trees inside the campus. A shop inside the ashram sells products made at various ashrams of Asaram Bapu.
Incidentally, this is not the first time when an attempt was taken to measure the trust land. According to sources, in 2008, the then collector Rakesh Shrivastava had received complaint that Asaram’s trust had violated the lease norms and had also encroached upon government land. A notice had been issued to the trust president by the then nazul officer Gautam Singh and the then tehsildar Sanjay Sharma had been directed to measure the land, but nothing was done at that time.